1379.) Revelation 14

August 14, 2014

Rev14 die in the Lord

Revelation 14  (NRSV)

It is interesting to me that, just as I am posting Revelation and we are reading about the glories of heaven and the majesty of God, my precious father has been called home to Jesus.  I thank God for the new song Daddy is now singing to his blessed Redeemer, and for the cross of Christ that opens the door to everlasting life for all who believe.

Chapter 14:  An interlude of three visions intended to reassure the church amid trials and persecutions.  (The New Oxford Annotated Bible)

The Lamb and the 144,000

The Lamb and those redeemed from the earth.

Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion!

The two beast of chapter 13 come one from the sea and one from the earth.  Both occupy low-lying places of the terrain.  The Lamb stands upon the mountain.  Geographically, John displays the dominance of the Lamb over the beasts.

–Robert H. Conn

And with him were one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.

In Revelation 7, the 144,000 are seen at the beginning of the Great Tribulation. Revelation 14 shows them in triumph at the end of the Great Tribulation.

–David Guzik

And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth. It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless.

The Messages of the Three Angels

Three angels announce the coming judgment.

Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation and tribe and language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

1) Babylon (Rome) is as good as fallen.

Then another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”

2) The beast’s worshipers will face eternal torment.

Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, “Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, 10 they will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image and for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”

12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus.

Rev blessed13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.”

3) The faithful will find rest and blessedness.

Psalm 116:15

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.

HELLOMOTO

Jasper Riskedahl
April 28, 1915 – August 2, 2014

Rest in the arms of Jesus, Daddy. 
Ninety-nine years of living is a long time,
and you lived with faith and integrity, honesty and joy.

I love you.

Reaping the Earth’s Harvest

The final judgment of God, involving the in-gathering of saints by one like a son of man and the assembling of the wicked for judgment.

14 Then I looked, and there was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like the Son of Man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand! 15 Another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to the one who sat on the cloud, “Use your sickle and reap, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16 So the one who sat on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was reaped.

Rev14 sickle

Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT)

Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.

“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’

“‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.

“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.

“‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do.  Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”

17 Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18 Then another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over fire, and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Use your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle over the earth and gathered the vintage of the earth, and he threw it into the great wine press of the wrath of God.

This vivid picture of judgment was the inspiration for The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

 Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord,

He is trampling out the vineyard where the grapes of wrath are stored,

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword,

His truth is marching on!

20 And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the wine press, as high as a horse’s bridle, for a distance of about two hundred miles.

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Music:

HERE  is the Robert Shaw Chorale (none better!) and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

1378.) Revelation 13

August 13, 2014
The beast from the sea

The beast from the sea

Revelation 13  (NRSV)

The First Beast

Then the dragon took his stand on the sand of the seashore.

Having seen a terrifying dragon expelled from heaven, John now turns his attention to the two lower realms, where the forces of chaos and evil are still at work:  first the sea and then the earth.

–Ian Boxall (and all following comments in blue)

And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads; and on its horns were ten diadems, and on its heads were blasphemous names. And the beast that I saw was like a leopard, its feet were like a bear’s, and its mouth was like a lion’s mouth. And the dragon gave it his power and his throne and great authority. One of its heads seemed to have received a death-blow, but its mortal wound had been healed. In amazement the whole earth followed the beast. They worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?”

The beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them.

However powerful the monster appears to be, and however much it threatens the Church, God is ultimately in control and granting permission for this temporary state of affairs to exist.  Revelation ultimately rejects a cosmic dualism between two opposing gods or principles of good and evil.  God may not actively will the activity of the monster, but God’s world is such that it is allowed to function . . . only for a limited time.

It was given authority over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all the inhabitants of the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slaughtered.

This deeply meaningful title for Jesus reminds us that God’s plan of redemption was set in place before He even created the beings who would be redeemed. God wasn’t “surprised” by the fall of Adam or any other evidence of the fallen nature of man. God isn’t making it up as He goes along. It is all going according to plan.

  • God the Son had a relationship of love and fellowship with God the Father before the foundation of the world (John 17:24)
  • The work of Jesus was ordained before the foundation of the world (1 Peter 1:20)
  • God chose His redeemed before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4)
  • Names are written in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world (Revelation 17:8)
  • The kingdom of heaven was prepared for the redeemed before the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34)

–David Guzik

Let anyone who has an ear listen:

Mark 4:9 (NLT)

Then he said, “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

Perhaps the exalted Christ is interrupting here, too –

10 If you are to be taken captive,
    into captivity you go;
if you kill with the sword,
    with the sword you must be killed.

Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.

This call for the faithful perseverance of the holy ones is a call that has resounded across the centuries.  Against the backdrop of Nazi dominance in 1930s Germany, for example, Dietrich Bonhoeffer urged the German churches to become a distinctive community which listened to the Apocalypse.

The Second Beast

a beast from the earth

The beast from the earth

11 Then I saw another beast that rose out of the earth; it had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon.

John’s description of the second monster anticipates its ability to lead human beings astray.  First, it has two horns like a lamb’s horns — a satanic parody of the slaughtered yet risen Lamb:  its lamb-like appearance, without the assistance of insight, could easily lead to a case of mistaken identity, even amongst Christians.  When it opens its mouth, however, it speaks like a dragon.  Its ultimate dependence upon Satan, whose words it utters rather than the true words of God, becomes clear.

12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and it makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound had been healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in the sight of all;

–like Elijah did with the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18

14 and by the signs that it is allowed to perform on behalf of the beast, it deceives the inhabitants of earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that had been wounded by the sword and yet lived; 15 and it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast so that the image of the beast could even speak and cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be killed. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell who does not have the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let anyone with understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a person. Its number is six hundred sixty-six.

Rev12 666

Those persuaded to worship the monster are forced to receive a branded mark on their right hand or on their forehead.  It is probably an allusion to the branded mark or tattoo imposed on slaves or prisoners of war, often made on the forehead, which proclaimed that its recipient now belonged to another.  The Jewish John would probably also detect a demonic parody of contemporary Jewish practice, whereby phylacteries containing words of the Shema were bound on the forehead and the left hand. 

But whatever allusions underlie this description, the branded mark is not a physical mark but a symbolic one.  It cannot be seen by the naked eye (any more than the sealing of God’s servants), but only in apocalyptic vision.  It is the demonic counterpart  to those who have the name or seal of God or the Lamb on their foreheads.  It is a mark of ownership, a reminder that where your treasure is, there will your heart be also (Matthew 6:21).  It marks out those who belong to earth from those who belong to heaven.

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Music:

Given the starkness of the choice — heaven or earth?  the Lamb or the beast?  free or slave? — it is utterly clear, and we joyfully choose God!  HERE  is Hillsong and “I Belong to You.”

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 


1377.) Revelation 12

August 12, 2014

Rev12 woman dragon

Revelation 12  (NRSV)

The Woman and the Dragon

A great portent appeared in heaven:

This is the first of seven signs that John relates, and is described as a great sign. In Revelation chapters 12, 13, and 14 the main figures of the Great Tribulation are described, and this great sign introduces the first of the seven:

  • The woman, representing Israel
  • The dragon, representing Satan
  • The man-child, referring to Jesus
  • The angel Michael, head of the angelic host
  • The offspring of the woman, representing Gentiles who come to faith in the Tribulation
  • The beast out of the sea, representing the antichrist
  • The beast out of the earth, representing the false prophet who promotes the antichrist

–David Guzik (and all following comments in red)

a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth.

The woman appears to be the heavenly representative of God’s people, first as Israel (from whom Jesus the Messiah was born, v. 5), then as the Christian Church (which is persecuted by the dragon, v. 13).  (The New Oxford Annotated Bible)

Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born.

The dragon is identified in v. 9 as the Devil or Satan. 

And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron.

Psalm 2:7-9  (NIV)

I will proclaim the Lord’s decree:

He said to me, “You are my son;
    today I have become your father.
Ask me,
    and I will make the nations your inheritance,
    the ends of the earth your possession.
You will break them with a rod of iron;
    you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”

But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred sixty days.

Prepared uses the same ancient Greek word Jesus used in I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2-3). This demonstrates that God’s careful planning works on earth as well as in heaven.

The church is sustained by God.  (The New Oxford Annotated Bible)

Michael Defeats the Dragon

Victory of St. Michael by Raphael, 16th century

“St. Michael Vanquishing Satan” by Raphael, 1518 (The Louvre)

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon.

This is a dramatic scene of battle between good angels and bad angels, faithful angels and fallen angels. The dragon represents Satan (Revelation 12:9), and Satan is not the counterpart of God — God has no counterpart. If anyone, Satan is the counterpart of Michael, who seems to be the chief angel opposite this chief of fallen angels.

The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.

This single verse uses many different titles for our spiritual enemy, including Dragon, serpent of old, the Devil, Satan, and he who deceives the whole world. These titles describe Satan as vicious, an accuser, an adversary, and a deceiver.

His angels are also the same as the third of the stars of heaven described in Revelation 12:4. Since Satan only drew a third of the stars of heaven, it means that two-thirds of the angels remained faithful to God.

10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven, proclaiming,

“Now have come the salvation and the power
    and the kingdom of our God
    and the authority of his Messiah,
for the accuser of our comrades has been thrown down,
    who accuses them day and night before our God.
11 But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.

Here are our keys for being an overcomer and getting victory over Satan’s accusations, over his deception, and over his violence! 

The blood of the Lamb:  Satan can remind us of all our sins and actually our sins may be worse than what he says, but the blood of Jesus has washed us clean and we are made righteous by the work of Jesus on the cross. 

The word of our testimony:  And once we have seen and heard and experienced God’s love and grace and forgiveness, we can reject his lies.  Remember that Martin Luther would rebuke the devil’s temptations, saying, “I am baptized!”

In the face of death:  And if we do not cling to our lives, what threat really does Satan have over us?  If we believe to live is Christ, and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21), then how can Satan’s violence against us be effective?

Rev12 v-11

12 Rejoice then, you heavens
    and those who dwell in them!
But woe to the earth and the sea,
    for the devil has come down to you
with great wrath,
    because he knows that his time is short!”

The Dragon Fights Again on Earth

13 So when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child. 14 But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle, so that she could fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to her place where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time.

15 Then from his mouth the serpent poured water like a river after the woman, to sweep her away with the flood.

by Pat Marvenko Smith

by Pat Marvenko Smith

16 But the earth came to the help of the woman; it opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth. 

What might this mean?

The woman is now the church.  The dragon pursues the woman.  The Christians of John’s time, suffering under the persecution of the Emperor Domitian, now know that Domitian is the dragon, the devil’s instrument.  Ironically, Domitian regarded himself as the incarnation of Apollo, a pagan god.

Given wings, the woman flees to safety, as, possibly, very many Christians had gone, for the present, to be with God.  The event then reaches in to the riches of the Exodus story for some of its meaning.  The dragon spews water after the fleeing woman,  The earth swallows the water, making a safe way for her.  The church is saved, just as the people of Israel had been saved during the Exodus when God parted the waters, allowing them to move to safety over dry ground.

–Robert H. Conn

17 Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold the testimony of Jesus.

The First Beast

18 Then the dragon took his stand on the sand of the seashore.

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Music:

HERE  Jeremy Camp sings “Overcome.”  Such an encouraging piece!

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
woman and dragon (from Frank Breaden, Pictorial Aid for Bible Study).

1376.) Revelation 11

August 11, 2014

Rev11 two-witnesses

Revelation 11  (NRSV)

The Two Witnesses

The identity of the two witnesses has fascinated and intrigued commentators for centuries.  Are they particular individuals (Moses / Elijah / Enoch), or the two blameless churches in the letters sent out early in the book (Smyrna and Philadelphia), or representative symbols (for the prophetic ministry of the church)?  Opinions vary.

Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Come and measure the temple of God

Sometimes in the Old Testament, the idea of measuring communicates ownership, protection, and preservation. When Habakkuk prophesied, He stood and measured the earth (Habakkuk 3:6), the idea was that the Lord owned the earth and could do with it as He pleased. When this temple is measured, it shows that God knows its every dimension, and He is in charge.

God is in charge. This is one of the glorious, mighty themes of the Book of Revelation.

–David Guzik (and all further comments in red)

The temple:  Of historical Jerusalem?  Of heaven?  Many scholars see the sanctuary of God and its worshipers as a symbol of the Church protected by God.

and the altar and those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample over the holy city for forty-two months. And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for one thousand two hundred sixty days, wearing sackcloth.”

Sackcloth would seem to indicate that their message is one of repentance.

These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone wants to harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes; anyone who wants to harm them must be killed in this manner. They have authority to shut the sky, so that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have authority over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire.

When they have finished their testimony, the beast

–meaning the antichrist –

that comes up from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them,

The witnesses are killed, but their testimony is not cut short (“After they have finished their testimony . . .”).  Death cannot take us too soon.  This speaks again of the control God has over the world.

and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that is prophetically called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. For three and a half days members of the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb; 10 and the inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and celebrate and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to the inhabitants of the earth.

I can imagine this playing out on television’s nightly news!

11 But after the three and a half days, the breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and those who saw them were terrified. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here!” And they went up to heaven in a cloud while their enemies watched them. 13 At that moment there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell; seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

14 The second woe has passed. The third woe is coming very soon.

The Seventh Trumpet

15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet,

The seventh trumpet leads, not to the end as one expects, but to worship that forecasts the end.  So confident are those in heaven of God’s victory on earth, that they sing as though it were already accomplished.

–Robert H. Conn

and there were loud voices in heaven, saying,

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord
    and of his Messiah,
and he will reign forever and ever.”

The seventh seal brought forth a profound silence (Revelation 8:1); the seventh trumpet initiates joy at the inevitable resolution. There can’t be a more glorious proclamation than this: The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!

16 Then the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 singing,

“We give you thanks, Lord God Almighty,
    who are and who were,
for you have taken your great power
    and begun to reign.

God is in charge. This is one of the glorious, mighty themes of the Book of Revelation. Revelation 11:17 again uses the title Almighty for God. The Greek word for Almighty is pantokrater, and it describes “the one who has his hand on everything.” Nine out of the ten times this word is used in the New Testament, it is used in Revelation. This temple will be the scene of great horror and great glory, but God is in charge, working through both the good and bad actions of man.

18 The nations raged,
    but your wrath has come,
    and the time for judging the dead,
for rewarding your servants, the prophets
    and saints and all who fear your name,
    both small and great,
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.”

19 Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

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Music:

HERE  is Twila Paris and “God Is In Control.”  The promise is sure!

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

Fear not, for I am with you;
    be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 


1375.) Revelation 10

August 8, 2014

Rev10 angel

Revelation 10  (NRSV)

The Angel with the Little Scroll

And I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head; his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire.

Is it Jesus?  Is it the archangel Michael?  Is it someone else?  Opinions vary.

He held a little scroll open in his hand. Setting his right foot on the sea and his left foot on the land,

His stance “indicates complete authority over the entire earthly situation.”

–John F. Walvoord

he gave a great shout, like a lion roaring. And when he shouted, the seven thunders sounded. And when the seven thunders had sounded, I was about to write, but I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Seal up what the seven thunders have said, and do not write it down.”

Then the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and the land raised his right hand to heaven 6 and swore by him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it: “There will be no more delay, but in the days when the seventh angel is to blow his trumpet, the mystery of God will be fulfilled, as he announced to his servants the prophets.”

Rev10 detective

In Biblical vocabulary, a mystery isn’t something no one knows. A mystery is something no one could know unless it was revealed to him. If you could know it by intuition or personal investigation, it isn’t a mystery, because mysteries must be revealed. Therefore, something can be known and still be a mystery in the Biblical sense. In this context, the mystery of God probably refers to the unfolding of His resolution of all things, the finishing of His plan of the ages. Life today is full of mysteries, but it will not always be so. A day will come when all questions of this age will be answered.

–David Guzik

Then the voice that I had heard from heaven spoke to me again, saying, “Go, take the scroll that is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went to the angel and told him to give me the little scroll; and he said to me, “Take it, and eat; it will be bitter to your stomach, but sweet as honey in your mouth.” 10 So I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it; it was sweet as honey in my mouth, but when I had eaten it, my stomach was made bitter.

Sweet, because it contains God’s words; bitter, because it involves his terrible judgments.  (The New Oxford Annotated Bible)

Jeremiah also spoke of eating God’s word:  Thy words were found, and I ate them, and thy words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.  But he goes on to say, Thou hast filled me with indignation.  Again the sweet and the bitter (Jeremiah 15:16-17).

11 Then they said to me, “You must prophesy again about many peoples and nations and languages and kings.”

The Word of God has already been given to the churches.  Now it must go out to the rest of the world.

_________________________

Music:

I love the image John gives us of “the mighty angel” with one foot on land and one on the sea!  Such power and authority!  Looking at the picture above brought a hymn and a memory to mind. . .

Years ago, when my children were small and we lived in Italy, I played the organ for the English-speaking community’s Anglican church in Naples.  How many times I looked over the list of hymns for upcoming Sundays and thought I was familiar with them, only to find, at practice, that the tunes were utterly unknown to me.  HERE  is such an example — “Jesus Shall Reign” — and even after listening to umpteen verses I am still having trouble getting the rhythm right!  But the text is by Isaac Watts, so I can certainly enjoy that!

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Images courtesy of:
the mighty angel.    understanding-daniel-revelation.com/R-10.html

1374.) Revelation 9

August 7, 2014

Rev9 scorpion

Revelation 9  (NRSV)

And the fifth angel blew his trumpet,

This is the fifth angel that sounded a trumpet. There were seven seals, followed – thematically if not chronologically – by seven trumpets. In their arranged order, they are similar.

The first four seals and trumpets presented judgments directed against the earth. In the first four seals, these were the “four horsemen” bringing tyranny, war, famine, and death on the earth. In the first four trumpets, these were the ecological destruction of the vegetation, seas, fresh waters, and sky.

The last three seals focused upon heaven: the cry of the martyrs, cosmic disturbances, and the heavenly prelude to the seven trumpets. The last three trumpets will speak of hell, in terms of the demonic.

–David Guzik (and all comments in red)

and I saw a star that had fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit;

A star that had fallen:  One of the fallen angels?  Satan himself?  Someone else entirely?  Opinions vary.

And from your friendly English teacher! — The falling of the star and its trail of destruction are recorded in the English word disaster, aster being the Latin word for star.  A disaster is a fallen star.

he opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given authority like the authority of scorpions of the earth.

“A visual representation of the hordes of demons loosed upon the earth.”

–John F. Walvoord

They were told not to damage the grass of the earth or any green growth or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. They were allowed to torture them for five months, but not to kill them, and their torture was like the torture of a scorpion when it stings someone. And in those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them.

Their purpose and period is expressly governed by God, to bring repentance (see verses 20-21).  Death will offer no escape from this prolonged torture. Their power is described like the power of scorpions, and the bite of a scorpion, though extremely painful, is rarely fatal.

In appearance the locusts were like horses equipped for battle. On their heads were what looked like crowns of gold; their faces were like human faces, their hair like women’s hair, and their teeth like lions’ teeth; they had scales like iron breastplates, and the noise of their wings was like the noise of many chariots with horses rushing into battle. 10 They have tails like scorpions, with stingers, and in their tails is their power to harm people for five months.

Don't take it so literally!

Don’t take it so literally!

“There can be no specific answer to the question of exactly who or what is symbolized by the plague of locusts. All we can know for sure is that in the period immediately before the end the wicked will be subjected to a time of unprecedented demonic torment. Exactly how this will take place will remain unknown until disclosed by history itself.”

–Robert H. Mounce

11 They have as king over them the angel of the bottomless pit; his name in Hebrew is Abaddon (meaning Destruction), and in Greek he is called Apollyon (meaning Destroyer).

Their king:  One of the fallen angels?  Satan himself?  Someone else entirely?  Opinions vary.

12 The first woe has passed. There are still two woes to come.

13 Then the sixth angel blew his trumpet, and I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar before God, 14 saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, “Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.”

The Euphrates River

The Euphrates River

These angels were connected with the Euphrates River because the Euphrates was a landmark of ancient Babylon. It was the frontier of Israel’s land as fully promised by God (Genesis 15:17-21). It was also the boundary of the old Roman Empire, which will be revived under the Antichrist.

The Euphrates is also associated with the first sin (Genesis 2:10-14), the first murder (Genesis 4:16), the first organized revolt against God (Genesis 11:1-9), the first war confederation (Genesis 14:1), and the first dictatorship (Genesis 10:8-10).

15 So the four angels were released, who had been held ready for the hour, the day, the month, and the year, to kill a third of humankind. 16 The number of the troops of cavalry was two hundred million; I heard their number. 17 And this was how I saw the horses in my vision: the riders wore breastplates the color of fire and of sapphire and of sulfur; the heads of the horses were like lions’ heads, and fire and smoke and sulfur came out of their mouths. 18 By these three plagues a third of humankind was killed, by the fire and smoke and sulfur coming out of their mouths. 19 For the power of the horses is in their mouths and in their tails; their tails are like serpents, having heads; and with them they inflict harm.

This is a powerful picture of horror, destruction, and demonic association.

20 The rest of humankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands or give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk. 21 And they did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their fornication or their thefts.

Almost hard to believe — but it was business as usual for those who remained. 

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Music:

Amid all these awful images of a dark future, there is one thing to remember, and  HERE  it is in a song by Point of Grace, an all-female contemporary Christian music group.  We can face what is coming in our lives unafraid, for “Jesus Will Still Be There.”

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 


1373.) Revelation 8

August 6, 2014
"Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets" by Pat Marvenko Smith

“Seven Angels, Seven Trumpets” by Pat Marvenko Smith

Revelation 8  (NRSV)

The Seventh Seal and the Golden Censer

When the Lamb opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

The sealed scroll was introduced in Revelation 5, and the seals were opened one by one up to the sixth seal in Revelation 6. We waited for the last seal to be opened and the contents of the scroll to be revealed — but then were given a pause with Revelation 7, the revealing of the 144,000 and the great multitude out of the great tribulation. Now the idea of a pause between the sixth and the seventh seal is emphasized by this silence in heaven for about half an hour.

This silence is striking; some have seen it as “breathing space,” or, that the angels are silent so the prayers of the saints can be heard, perhaps even the cry of the martyrs of Revelation 6:9-11.  Or perhaps this silence in heaven demonstrates a sober, awestruck silence at the judgments to come, now that the seals are off and the scroll can be opened.

–David Guzik

And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them.

Another angel with a golden censer came and stood at the altar; he was given a great quantity of incense to offer with the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar that is before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel.

Rev8 evening-sacrifice

Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth; and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake.

The Seven Trumpets

Now the seven angels who had the seven trumpets made ready to blow them.

The first six trumpets introduce new convulsions of nature, in judgment upon the wicked (compare the plagues of Egypt).  These calamities are not consecutive nor are they to be taken literally.  (The New Oxford Annotated Bible)

The first angel blew his trumpet, and there came hail and fire, mixed with blood, and they were hurled to the earth; and a third of the earth was burned up, and a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.

1)  A plague on vegetation

The second angel blew his trumpet, and something like a great mountain, burning with fire, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea became blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.

2)  A plague on the sea

10 The third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from heaven, blazing like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. 11 The name of the star is Wormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many died from the water, because it was made bitter.

3)  A plague on fresh waters

12 The fourth angel blew his trumpet, and a third of the sun was struck, and a third of the moon, and a third of the stars, so that a third of their light was darkened; a third of the day was kept from shining, and likewise the night.

4)  A plague on the heavens, and darkness on earth

13 Then I looked, and I heard an eagle crying with a loud voice as it flew in midheaven, “Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth, at the blasts of the other trumpets that the three angels are about to blow!”

These first four trumpets reveal the severity of God’s judgment. He attacks all the ordinary means of subsistence, such as food and water; and He attacks all the ordinary means of comfort, and knowledge, such as light and the regular rhythm of days.

The first four trumpets also reveal the mercy of God’s judgment; these are partial judgments striking only one-third, and are meant to warn and lead a rebellious world to repentance before the final curtain. For now, God spares more than He smites.

–David Guzik

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Music:

I have long loved the image of prayers rising to the Lord in heaven as the smoke of incense rises.  HERE  is a song to that effect from Hillsong — “Like Incense.”

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New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)   New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

 

 


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